I’m not going to get up a post every day in 2011, nor even one each day in January. It was fun pulling that off in December, but sometimes these posts take me a couple hours!
Anyway, there was more I wanted to say from yesterday’s post, but I really didn’t know how to organize it. I still don’t, but here’s some important thoughts.
I was in the Charismatic movement for several years as a young Christian. A lot of this post is addressed to Charismatics, and it especially applies to the Word-Faith movement, many of whom are perfect Laodiceans: impoverished, starving, and blind without knowing it.
There are two things we need for spiritual battle. We need to know God, and we need to know one another.
Successful spiritual battle is founded in the unity of the church.
No, Paul didn’t list unity as one of the items needed in Ephesians 6 for standing against the devil, but he does reference it—repeatedly.
We just don’t recognize it because the devil has successfully defeated so many of us already.
Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 12 that we desperately need one another. We can’t function without one another any more than a finger can function without a hand.
So, let me ask you a question. What percentage of people with a deliverance ministry are completely confident that they only need Jesus and themselves?
Yeah, most of them.
They’ve been defeated already. They think the danger is addiction, dark rings around the eyes, and epileptic seizures.
Instead, the danger is separation, self-confidence, selfish ambition, pride.
They roll in, and they don’t get cast out.
Addictions are bad. Addicted people, though, at least know they need help!
Don’t believe me?
Let’s look again at Ephesians 6.
Ephesians 6 and the Spiritual Armor of Unity
1 Cor. 12 says it’s impossible for us to battle the devil without one another.
Actually, 1 Cor. 12 says it’s impossible for us to do anything without one another. I just got more specific.
There’s huge dangers from not being accountable, loved, and part of a family. The biggest danger is deception (Eph. 4:11-16; Heb. 3:13; 1 Jn. 2:19-27).
But we’ve ignored that because we’re good rugged American individualists. We just need Jesus and our Bible.
We know that the spiritual armor in Ephesians 6 doesn’t include unity, and it doesn’t require anyone else.
Yeah, right. We’re deceived.
Finally, brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
Put on, the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt with truth,
Having the breastplate of righteousness,
And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.
Above all, take the shield of faith, with which you may be able to quench all the fiery arrows of the wicked one.
And take the helmet of salvation
And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God
Praying always with all supplication in the Spirit
And staying up to watch with all perseverance and pleading for all saints
And for me, that utterance may be given to me to allow me to open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel.
I bolded the parts that reference the unity of the saints.
I know, I know. It’s not that much <sarcasm>.
The parts bolded at the beginning are the plural parts. Those aren’t individual commands. Those are commands to "y’all."
Then there’s the word righteousness, which Paul—a good covenant Jew who believed that Jesus fulfilled the covenant and brought Gentiles into the covenant and people of God—understood to refer to those who are walking as part of the covenant people of God.
Then there’s the Gospel of Peace. You may have read about that earlier in the letter to the Ephesians, where Jesus, who is our peace, preached peace to those who were far off and those who were near so that through him we might both—Jew and Gentile—have access to the Father by the one Spirit (2:14-22; you may want to read that).
And then there’s the helmet of salvation. What is our salvation except that we have been brought into the people of God? If we do not speak to one another daily, then we are in danger of not being saved, as sin will harden our hearts (Heb. 3:13). We are joined to one another, so that none of us can say we don’t need the other (1 Cor. 12). We grow "together" into a holy habitation in the Spirit for the Lord (Eph. 2:22).
And finally, part of our spiritual battle is praying for all saints.
Wait, that’s not the last part. Then Paul adds that he needs prayer in order to preach the Gospel himself, and to tell others that they can come into the great unity and power of the people of God.
Even the great apostle Paul, whose name was known even to the demons (Acts 19:15), didn’t think he could do it on his own!
I’m sure there’s more I’m missing because I, too, was raised as a Christian in the great deception of American Christianity, that thinks there’s such a thing as "just Jesus and me" and so often brings people into one-limbed bodies. (The word "member" in 1 Cor. 12 is literally "limb" it’s not member like a club.)
I was raised in Christianity that can call a building a church or think that attending meetings could constitute being part of the church: the covenant people of God.
Back to the Point
What I described above is the reality of Ephesians 6.
It is not the reality of most deliverance ministries. They live in a completely different reality. They think Christianity is an individual religion. (I’ll give you an important point about that in a moment.)
Ephesians 6 is written so that we may stand against the wiles of the devil.
In other words, he’s tricky (as are his ministers: Eph. 4:14).
The deliverance ministries are needing deliverance! They’ve been tricked, and they don’t know it!
I met a lady who had been treated (that’s the right word) by a particularly good deliverance ministry in Georgia. I mean that sincerely. They did some good things, and they had good advice for people.
The lady had been in really bad condition, and they helped her.
But she was coming to us because she was lonely and needed to be a part of something. She was on a fast track downward.
I asked the lady what happened after this deliverance ministry had "treated" her for a month or so. She was surprised I asked. She barely understood the question.
"They sent me home," she said.
"To whom?" I asked.
"Huh?" she replied.
She didn’t get it. They sent her home to nothing. Nothing was what led to her problems. They had delivered her, and the house was swept, but it was also empty! This is a bad thing! (Matt. 12:43-45).
Once I explained it to her, she said, "They did give me literature."
Knowing the right things won’t do the job. We need people, or we will be deceived.
Addendum: Practical Advice
What people am I talking about? I’m talking about people who will join you in following Christ, whether that is one, two, or two hundred people. Love one another, be with one another, visit each other, confess your faults to one another, and act like you’re family! If you believe the Gospel, you are family!
And once again, if you don’t know what to do together, make use of this advice when you get together.
But get together. Pay the price to make it happen.